Firstrade brokerage review, rating, pros and cons, commissions, fees, account minimums, trading platform, IRA investment research tools, education, and customer service.


Firstrade Rating:  Firstrade rating


Overview of Firstrade

Although often overlooked, Firstrade succeeds in delivering a great brokerage experience, at least in some categories. Let’s check it out.


Investments and Accounts

Firstrade Investments Rating

Firstrade is a brokerage firm that offers self-directed trading. It does not offer financial planning or investment advice. Inside of its brokerage accounts, customers can trade a moderate amount of asset classes:

  • Equities (including some penny and OTC stocks)
  • Fixed-income assets
  • Options
  • Mutual funds
  • Exchange-traded funds
  • Closed-end funds

A brokerage account at Firstrade can be opened under one of several tax structures. These include:

  • Coverdell ESA
  • Individual
  • Joint (WROS & Tenants in Common)
  • Custodial
  • Trust
  • IRA

Besides Americans, residents and citizens of several other countries can open brokerage accounts at Firstrade. An international account can be opened online, which simplifies the process quite a bit. Eligible countries are located mainly in Europe and Asia.

Domestic and foreign accounts are both protected by SIPC, America’s major defender of securities accounts. Firstrade also has a supplementary insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London with a house limit of $150 million.


Cash Management

Firstrade Management Rating

Besides self-directed investing, Firstrade also offers a Visa debit card. It can be attached to an existing brokerage account. There is no setup fee and no annual fee, either. Checkwriting is available for domestic accounts.

The major downside of the program is the minimum account balance to qualify, which is $25,000. There is also no ATM fee refund policy. There are daily limits on purchases and cash withdrawals.

Through Firstrade’s clearing firm Apex, there is an FDIC-sweep program for uninvested cash. Firstrade will move idle cash to one of several program banks, where the cash will earn a 0.45% interest rate and receive FDIC protection up to $250,000.


Commissions and Minimums

Firstrade Pricing Rating

Firstrade does not require any deposit to open a brokerage account, and there are no ongoing fees, such as annual, low-balance, maintenance, or inactivity charges.


Firstrade fees


In its zero-fee account, Firstrade charges no commissions on most trades. These include transactions of stocks, ETFs, closed-end funds, mutual funds, and option contracts. Options have no per-contract fees, and there are no fees for exercises or assignments. Bonds have markups and markdowns in their prices. Primary market CDs are $30 per transaction.


Free Firstrade Account

Earn up to $5,000 cash bonus & get transfer fee reimbursement.

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Mobile App

Firstrade App Rating

Firstrade’s mobile app is easy to use, although there aren’t many tools on it. For example, there is no check-deposit widget, and we didn’t find any streaming video news. At the top, there is a magnifying glass to find something to trade. Mutual funds and fixed-income products can’t be traded on the mobile platform, so there’s no use trying to search for them.


Firstrade App Review


Stocks, ETFs, closed-end funds, and option contracts are searchable. A stock or fund can be added to a watchlist, which can be either a device list or a list that syncs with the website. With either type of list, it’s easy to scroll to the right to look at more columns. Tapping on an entry pulls up the asset’s profile, where charts and option chains will be found.

A chart on a security’s profile begins in vertical format. Tapping on a rotate icon produces a horizontal and full-screen chart. Here, there are many technical indicators but no drawing tools.


Firstrade Promo Code


The app’s order ticket has discrete buttons for buy to cover and sell short. There are a few advanced order types, including trailing and stop. The trade ticket for options doesn’t have P/L diagrams, although it does show Greek values and maximum gain and loss figures (tap on the Analysis button). There are a few integrated strategies.


Website

Firstrade Trading Rating

Things improve somewhat on Firstrade’s website. Right off the bat, we get much better charting. This time, there are drawing tools—a lot of them, in fact. Here are some examples:

  • Cross Line
  • Disjoint Angle
  • Balloon
  • Anchored Note
  • Flag Mark
  • Time Cycles
  • Price Range


Firstrade Trading Review


There is a full-screen mode that pulls a chart out of the browsing window to create a full-full-screen viewing experience. A chart can be compared to some other index or symbol, and there are lots of technical studies.

At the bottom of Firstrade’s website, there is a trade bar. It can be minimized if desired. In this minimalist mode, important trade data are still shown. These numbers include volume and the bid-ask spread. Expanding the trade bar displays the order ticket, which can be used for stocks or options.

To actually find something to trade, there are security screeners. There are many search criteria, and the scanners are easy to use. Clicking on a result generates the asset’s profile. Because Firstrade has a partnership with Morningstar, there are tons of information.

Some stocks have a feature called Morningstar’s Analysis, which is completely free of charge. Some examples of information that are available through this section include fair value, level of economic moat, and star ratings at high and low prices. Some stocks will have commentary from Morningstar analysts, too.


Firstrade Trading Reviews


Other important details that Morningstar provides include sustainability ratings, trailing returns, and portfolio composition for funds.

For options traders, the Firstrade site delivers OptionsPlay. This, too, is free of charge and delivers some really helpful derivative tools, including trade ideas based on stock sentiment and profit-loss diagrams.


Firstrade options trading


Free Firstrade Account

Earn up to $5,000 cash bonus & get transfer fee reimbursement.

Open Firstrade Account

Margin Service

Firstrade Service Rating

A brokerage account with Firstrade can be set up on either a cash or margin basis. An existing cash account can upgrade to margin status using this pdf form or a more convenient online application (go to the Accounts tab in the top menu and select the Profile link).

Firstrade’s tiered margin schedule is passable by industry standards. It starts at 13.75% for debit balances under $25,000 and ends at 9.75% for balances above $1 million.

Firstrade’s trade bar shows initial margin details for entered ticker symbols on both long and short positions. The website shows short-interest details. A normal stock will have a 50% initial margin requirement and a 25% maintenance requirement in a non-concentrated account. A concentrated account, which is defined as an account where a single position makes up more than 60% of the account’s total marginable market value, has a 50% maintenance requirement. Stocks priced under $3 are not marginable at Firstrade.


Customer Support

Firstrade Customer Rating

The website has a Service tab in the top-right menu. Under this tab, we found a variety of self-help features, including a Help Center with a list of answers to important FAQs. There is also a Form Center where a variety of forms will be found in both pdf and online formats. A short video here shows how to upload a document on the Firstrade website.

For issues that can’t be resolved through one of the many self-help tools available on the site, there is also an email form for non-urgent issues. For urgent issues, there is always phone service. The broker’s service department is open during the week from 8:00 am, New York time, until 6:00 pm. There are no weekend hours. Some agents speak Mandarin and Cantonese.

Firstrade’s website no longer has a chat widget on it, which is disappointing because we had good luck with it. The company has no branch locations.


Broker Incentive


Bonus Services

Firstrade Brokerage Rating

IPO Access: Firstrade does not offer Initial Public Offerings (although it does have a list of them; look under the Education tab on the website).

Securities Lending Income Program: Investors at Firstrade can earn money from the shares they have purchased by loaning them out. The digital enrollment form is on the Profile page we have already visited.

DRIP Service: Firstrade has a Dividend Reinvestment Program.

Automatic Mutual Fund Investing: Available.

Fractional-share Trading: Not available for stocks or ETFs.

Individual Retirement Accounts: Firstrade customers can open a variety of IRAs. These include Roth, Traditional, Rollover, SEP, and SIMPLE. They have no fees, such as termination or annual charges.

Extended Hours: Pre-market and after-hours sessions are available. Firstrade’s order ticket on the website and mobile app has time-in-force choices for these trading periods. It’s possible to select both periods or just one.


Incentive to Open Account

Earn up to $5,000 cash bonus & get transfer fee reimbursement.

Open Firstrade Account

Firstrade Review Summary

Firstrade is a no-frills brokerage firm with all services at little to no cost. Traders who seek a high-powered software will have to look elsewhere.


Firstrade Commissions

InvestmentsPrice
Stocks and ETFs $0
Options $0 per contract
Mutual funds $0
Treasury Bills, Notes, Municipal and Agency Bonds, Zeros & Strips net yield basis
CDs $30 for primary market CDs, net yield basis for secondary market CDs


Firstrade Account Fees

FeeAmount
IRA Setup Fee$0
Annual IRA Fee$0
Roth IRA conversion or Recharacterization Fee$25
Full Account Transfer Out$75
Partial Account Transfer Out$25
Outgoing Wire Fees (Domestic)$30
Outgoing Wire Fees (International)$50
Account Closing Fee$0